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News State / Region

Last Thursday night, the Southwestern Commission, the Council of Government’s organization that represents the counties and municipalities of the seven-county region, held a workshop in Macon County to discuss the Southwestern North Carolina Opportunity Initiative (OPT-IN). Members of the public were invited to attend the forum to lend their ideas for the project.

A group of experienced consultants from within the region were chosen to facilitate community discussions that shape the Regional Vision. The goals of the initiative that have been laid out are to first identify a broad, consensus-driven vision, then to facilitate a collaborative sorting of ideas and strategies most likely to realize that vision for counties, towns and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

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Every year about this time, when the winter weather descends upon North Carolina and blankets our state’s highways, citizens call in and ask, “I need to get to work. When are you going to plow my road?” As much as The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) crews would like to immediately respond to every caller, the department has a set snow and ice removal process in place.

NCDOT plows the following roads known as bare pavement routes first:

  1. Interstates
  2. Four-lane divided highways
  3. Other routes essential to moving traffic

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Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Dan Forest joined Governor Pat McCrory, Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger, and Speaker of the House Thom Tillis in Jamestown, North Carolina to announce their intentions to raise the starting salary for entrylevel teachers in North Carolina.

"It's a new morning for education in North Carolina. One that brings together the top leaders of our state to address one of the most pressing issues we face, teacher pay," said Lt. Governor Dan Forest. “This is certainly a step in the right direction,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin.

“The demands on teachers are only going to increase as we move forward with proposed educational reform programs. It has been my experience that any program is only as good as the people who are implementing it. By increasing teacher pay for entry level teachers our state is making an effort to attract the “best and brightest” and in doing so, we are making a sound investment in our students.”

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled Tuesday, Feb. 11, that a 2011 North Carolina law that would have allowed the production of a “Choose Life” license plate, but not an alternative plate with a message supporting reproductive freedom, is unconstitutional.

“Issuing a ‘Choose Life’ specialty license plate while refusing to issue a pro-choice specialty license plate constitutes blatant viewpoint discrimination squarely at odds with the First Amendment,” the court ruled in a unanimous 3-0 opinion.

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